Food Distribution Division

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All commodities are delivered to school food authorities from two (2) State-owned warehouses. The State warehouses receive all shipments into these facilities, stores and delivers these commodities with no charge to school food authorities. However, it is permissible if a school system chooses to pickup their allocations from the State warehouses.

General guidelines apply to school food authorities receiving commodities:

1. Food Distribution will allocate commodities to the school food authority, generate an invoice (in triplicate) reflecting the commodity, pack-size, storage code, dollar value and time/date of delivery. A copy of the invoice will be faxed or mailed to the recipient agency at least seven (7) days prior to the delivery date. (Recipient agencies will be notified by telephone or faxed when the need to deliver products does not allow invoices to be mailed seven (7) days in advance of delivery). The remaining two (2) copies of the invoice accompanies the delivery.

2. When delivery is made, it is the responsibility of the receiving agency to unload products, assuring that the number of cases and pack-size matches the invoice, that the products are free from damage and in good condition. The receiving agency representative should sign for the products received in good condition, with differences noted on
the invoice. The Food Distribution driver will return the original signed copy to the warehouse. Damaged or refused foods should be returned on the truck to the warehouse with proper documentation noted on the driver's invoice. The receiving agency's invoice should match the driver's invoice. (Note: School food authorities will be charged for commodities as reflected on the driver's invoice when returned to the warehouse).


The storage of commodities involves two major areas -- storage conditions and storage practices. School food authority employees should familiarize themselves with state health codes that may supersede these storage guidelines.

A. Storage Conditions

Storage conditions are those factors that must be considered in order to prevent the premature deterioration of commodities.

1. Temperatures

a. To maintain quality, food must be stored at proper temperature. Storage food authorities should refer to the commodity fact sheets for each commodity and/or NCDA&CS delivery invoice notice.

b. Temperatures in freezers, dry storage, and refrigerators/coolers should be checked and recorded on a daily basis and checked when known or potential power losses have occurred.

Recommended temperature:

Freezer: -10 F to 0 F
Cooler: 35 F to 45 F
Dry Storage: 50 F to 70 F

2. Air Circulation

a. Air circulation is important for frozen, chilled and dry storage.

b. Commodities should be stacked on pallets or shelves with at least four inches wall and floor clearance and two feet ceiling clearance. Blowers should not be blocked by commodities.

B. Storage Practices

Storage practices are those ongoing activities which maintain the commodities and storage area in good condition.

1. First In, First Out (FIFO)

a. Commodities should be stacked so that the foods with the oldest pack dates are in front and are used first. USDA commodities, unlike many commercial foods, have the pack date or contract number on the case. NOTE: If food is taken out of the cases, the can/containers should be marked with the pack date.

2. Stacking

a. Stacks should not be so high as to cause bursting or crushing of the bottom layers.
b. All commodities should be cross-stacked to keep the stack solid.
c. Commodities should not be stacked near sources of steam or heat.

3. Protection of Food in Storage

a. Foods should be checked regularly for signs of deterioration.
b. Inspections should be made regularly for torn sacks and broken cartons. If food contained in torn sacks and broken cartons is in good condition, it should be repacked; otherwise, it should be properly destroyed. (See Section IX. B. Food Losses)
A statement should be obtained from the landfill indicating the product has been covered. If the product is disposed of by other methods, the carton must be removed and destroyed separately from the product.
c. Storage areas and freezers/coolers should be maintained in a clean and orderly manner.
d. Monthly extermination treatments are recommended, however, more often if necessary.
e. Food should be stored away from pesticides, cleaning supplies and paper products.
f. Foods should be stored so that they are secure from theft.
g. Refer to storage guide codes listed on delivery notice or Facts About USDA Commodities (FNS-251).


If a Recipient Agency has commodities on hand that are in excess of a six month's supply or if they are not being utilized, then they may transfer these commodities to another eligible agency or return them to the warehouse. If a transfer is made to another agency, that agency must be on the same program as the transferring agency, (i.e. school system to school system, charitable institution to charitable institution, emergency feeding organization to emergency feeding organization).


Occasionally, school food authorities will experience losses of USDA donated foods which were received in good condition. Generally, such losses will be due to inventory adjustments or due to theft, damage, infestation or spoilage. Foods which go out of condition (damage, swollen cans and spoilage) frequently create sanitation problems. The state distribution agency should be contacted immediately in such situations for guidance in dealing with the matter since inspection of the food by health authorities or representatives of the state distribution agency, or USDA may be necessary. Losses of food, both purchased and USDA commodities, are expensive, and care should be taken to prevent them. When losses occur, it is the responsibility of the school food authority to demonstrate that reasonable efforts were made to safeguard foods.

A. Disposal of Out-of-Condition Foods

1. Labels from cartons should be obliterated so that innocent people will not eat contaminated food.

2. Food should be adulterated so that it is no longer edible. For example, bleach should be poured on the food.

3. Food can also be taken to a landfill and buried or burned. The school food authority must witness disposition of foods and obtain a receipt from the landfill operator.


School food authorities must maintain accurate and complete records of USDA commodity and purchased foods inventory levels and of usage of commodities.

A. Inventory Records

A "perpetual inventory" may be used for daily recording of amounts of food added to or removed from storage. The term "book inventory" signifies the inventory level of one or more foods at any point in time, as reflected by the perpetual inventory and any other relevant records.

Whether or not a perpetual inventory is maintained for commodities in all storage areas, a monthly physical inventory must be taken to determine accurately the quantity of commodities on hand.

1. Physical inventory of USDA foods stored at all of the school food authority's storage facilities, i.e., individual school's storage as well as central storage.

2. If any USDA foods are stored in commercial storage facilities, physical inventory of these foods if possible; otherwise, book inventory levels of these foods.

3. If the school food authority contracts with a food processing company, book inventory levels of commodities at the processor.

4. If the school food authority contracts with a food service management company, physical inventory of USDA foods on hand at the company's production facility or other storage location.

Good inventory management procedures are necessary for the Food Distribution Program, just as they are for managing purchased foods. Inventory management is closely related to menu planning, ordering of foods, preventing excess inventory levels and detecting spoilage or other losses.

If assistance is needed on physical, perpetual inventory procedures, or forms, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Food Distribution Division should be contacted.

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